Coyotes and cougars cause concern in Penticton

Conservation officers destroy two aggressive coyotes, while a juvenile cougar was captured near Okanagan River Channel

Brazen coyotes caused residents in a Penticton neighbourhood concern last week.

Lori Dunn, who lives near McNicoll Park School, said she found her cat dead last week in a neighbour’s backyard. The SPCA also had reports of a number of cats missing last week in that area.

“The neighbours a few houses over had about five coyotes perched on their back deck a couple days before. They were very bold,” said Dunn. “We could hear them at night and I have seen them wandering down the street boldly around 8 to 9 p.m.”

Penticton conservation service officer Jim Beck said they received reports of three coyotes causing trouble near Kendall Crescent.

“The reason we attended was that they were actually approaching people and threatening to nip or bite. On two occasions there were people approached. The coyotes were coming right up on people within a few feet, and the people did the right thing by acting large, yelling and trying to scare them off. It took multiple attempts before one particular larger coyote backed off,” said Beck.

Conservation officers, Beck said, generally only provide preventative information about coyotes. Given the coyotes were causing a public safety issue and walking around during the day, officers decided to patrol the area last week.

“What this usually is linked to is people were feeding the coyotes scraps and that sort of thing. Well-meaning individuals think they are doing the coyotes a favour by throwing them scraps or feeding them, but in reality, that generally results in the death of the animal because they lose that natural fear or respect for people and start approaching them,” said Beck.

One adult couple out walking in the area was followed by a coyote from behind. Beck described it as how a border collie would come in quickly like it was going to bite an ankle. The couple scared it a few times and the coyote ran into a yard with hedges. But when the couple started walking away, it popped out from the hedge and went at them again from behind.

“Rarely do I get reports describing this kind of behaviour,” said Beck. “These (coyotes) were wandering around in the middle of the day and bedding in people’s yards and had absolutely zero fear or respect for people.”

During his patrols, Beck said he was waved over by a number of residents telling him of coyote encounters. Early Friday morning, conservation officers dispatched two coyotes, shooting them with a .22-calibre rifle. Beck said coyotes are capable of killing sheep and small prey. If a human is bitten, there is a chance of infection.

“A child could sustain a pretty nasty bite. But who knows if someone had been hand-feeding them and they were trying to mooch or if they were going to nip. We don’t want to take that kind of chance when they are displaying that kind of behaviour,” said Beck.

Since the coyotes were disposed of, the conservation officers haven’t received any calls from concerned residents.

While the numerous calls of bear sightings subsided from the beginning of summer, Beck said they did receive a call on Friday about two cougars seen on the Penticton Indian Reserve near the Green Mountain Road bridge. For three days in a row, the pair of cougars were seen during daylight hours between the mini storage and boarding stables. Both of those areas are close to the river channel halfway point where many people are converging and others are using the recreation trail. Beck said they set a live trap and captured the juvenile cat and removed it from the area.

“Once a juvenile has been removed from the female, that female generally isn’t going to feel the area is safe anymore and they disappear on us. Hopefully she will go back and prey on the natural prey she is accustomed to,” said Beck.